Moffam Electricals

What is a Circuit Breaker and Why Does it Keep Tripping?

Circuit breakers are electrical switches that function automatically and have an on/off button. They are made to guard against harm brought on by excessive electrical currents in electrical circuits. When there is an anomaly, they trip when they notice variations in the electrical current flow, severing the circuit link.

6 reasons why most circuit breaker trips in Nairobi Kenya

6 reasons why most circuit breaker trips in Nairobi Kenya

The most frequent cause of why a circuit breaker trips is an electrical circuit that is overloaded. It happens when a circuit tries to draw more electricity than it is designed to handle. The internal sensing mechanism in the circuit breaker heats up when too many appliances or light fixtures are functioning at once, and the breaker “trips,” typically by the use of a spring-loaded component inside the breaker.

The circuit becomes inactive when the breaker trips, interrupting its continuous route. Until the breaker lever is returned to the ON position, which also re-arms the internal spring mechanism, the circuit remains dead.

The circuit breaker or fuse is sized to correspond with the wires in that circuit’s load-carrying capacity. As a result, the breaker or fuse is meant to trip or blow before the circuit wires reach a risky level of heat.

You should shift some appliances and devices to different circuits if a circuit breaker frequently trips or a fuse frequently blows. This is an indication that you are placing an excessive amount of demand on the circuit. Or, it can mean that you need to improve your service since your home has insufficient circuits. Due to an inherent time delay function, the breaker often trips after 10 seconds or so when a circuit is overloaded.

2. Short Circuit

short circuit

A breaker tripping due to a short circuit is a more serious scenario. When the live¬†wire (red) hits a neutral wire (black), the bare ground or bond wire, or the casing of a metal box, it results in a “hard short.”

According to the physics at play, a short circuit permits an abrupt, unhindered flow of electricity since the resistance is lowered. The tripping mechanism engages as a result of the abrupt increase in current flow inside the breaker.

However, occasionally a short circuit is caused by a gadget or appliance that is connected into an outlet along the circuit, not a wiring issue with the circuit itself. Short circuits can occasionally be difficult to identify and repair, necessitating an electrician’s assistance.

You may have a short circuit if a circuit breaker trips again right after after you reset it.

3. Ground Fault

A “ground-fault,” a specific kind of short circuit, happens when a live wire (red) makes contact with a ground wire (green), a metal wall box, or metal framing members. Ground faults can be particularly hazardous in environments with high moisture content, such as bathrooms or kitchens, as well as outdoors. Electrical shock can be caused by a ground fault.

There are measures you may take to find a ground fault and correct it, but there are also crucial steps you should take to avoid a ground fault in the first place. For instance, NEC regulations may mandate that outlets be protected with GFCIs in locations where direct contact with the earth or water is conceivable (ground-fault circuit interrupters). 

Similar to hard shorts, a ground fault immediately lowers resistance and increases electrical flow. The circuit breaker’s internal mechanism heats up as a result and trips. If a ground fault is present, the circuit breaker could trip again right away after you reset it, much like with hard shorts.

4. Arc Fault

Generally speaking, arc fault is also regarded as a significant factor in often tripped circuit breakers. When corroded or loose wires generate a short contact that results in an arc or a spark, this is known as an arc fault. Due to the heat this produces, electrical fires are possible. You have an arc problem if you hear the buzzing of the outlet or the hissing of your light switch.

Your house and the safety of your loved ones are in grave danger if you avoid or ignore any of these issues. It’s time to get in touch with experts to look into the issue if your circuit breakers trip quite frequently. Avoid attempting to solve this problem on your own.

5. Bad Circuit Breaker

If the aforementioned causes of circuit breakers tripping are not the issue, then perhaps your circuit breaker is to blame. It’s time to replace the breaker when it becomes faulty and can no longer generate electricity. Moreover, if it is not maintained, it will eventually wear out.

You might smell burnt, trip frequently, be unable to reset, or notice scorch marks on the breaker box if your breaker has failed.

5. Wiring error

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When connecting the socket, if the neutral wire and the ground wire of a socket are reversed, it will cause a trip during the decoration acceptance or the first use of the circuit socket.

Solution: Disassemble the socket and rewire.

Unplug any electronics after manually turning them off. This is required because if the power surges back on while the gadgets are still running, it could have a negative impact on them.

Switch off the circuit breaker by going to it or take out the fuse. Restart the device. This is how a circuit breaker is reset.

Recheck the circuit box to see if any of the aforementioned factors apply to how your circuit breaker is currently behaving.

By turning on all of the lights and plugged-in equipment you unplugged, you must test the circuit. This will help you determine what is tripping the breaker.

After inspecting each device, decide if a new circuit breaker needs to be installed.

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